Most attorneys, along with individuals who work within the legal system, take the legal “jargon” or terms given to the most common documents filed in courts in connection with divorces for granted. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates believe understanding these basics aid in understanding the more complicated legal concepts contained within those filings.
In this blog post, we cover the five (5) most common terms that are used. We hope when you hear about these, you are able to understand what your counsel is referring to and why the particular legal tool may have been utilized. This will help you understand the substance in filing and what they mean to the specifics of your matter.
In basic form, such filings are ways attorneys provide courts with necessary information about a case and ask the court to do things to move the case to conclusion. With divorce proceedings, this conclusion is the trial court’s entry of the decree of dissolution of marriage–ending the bounds of matrimony.
Before the case reaches this point, it is likely a number of documents will have been filed; this request of the court or information provided to it are set on in the following:
Pleadings: It is common for all the filings with a court to be referred to as the pleadings file. Technically, however, the pleading is the issues that engage the legal system and asks for relief–a divorce. In a divorce action, it is the petitioner’s Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Most of the other filings are not pleadings, but used to move the case along.
Motions: A motion is a request for a court to do one of an innumerable number of things to the end of the relief sought in the pleading. For example, if children are involved, a party may move (request) the court to order a custody evaluation. A custody evaluation is where a trained professional, upon order of the Court, interviews the parties, gathers certain information, and makes recommendations to the Court on who should have custody and under what terms.
Notice: Notice is somewhat apparent. For instance, if the court orders the parties to each exchange certain things, such as tax returns or attempt to agree to a mediator within X number of days, the counsel for the parties may filed a Notice with the court to demonstrate and inform the court his or her client complied with the court’s directives.
Jacket/Agreed Entry: Typically, if the parties reach an agreement at court before the hearing, or out of court, it is written up in a less or more formal way. In courthouse, an agreement may be written on a pre-printed form titled a “minute entry”. This is written out by one of the attorneys and, if acceptable, ordered by the court and attached to the file, the file jacket. Where this is done in advance, it is typed in a format called an agreed entry, signed by the parties and counsel, and upon order by the court, placed in the court file.
Praecipe: This is a fancy term for a request. A praecipe for a final hearing is nothing more than a request for a trial date.
Courts, if they respond to these filings made by the parties, usually do so by an order. In other words, courts communicate back with the lawyers and their clients by orders. This is the communication chain and how the process of a divorce or similar litigation moves along.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates hope you find this basic terminology useful to increasing your base knowledge about the legal means to move cases along, and as such, spend more time focusing on the meaning of any motion or order for the case–your case and life post divorce. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice throughout the State.